What Does the Bible Say About Not Liking Someone?

Disliking or not getting along with someone is a common human experience. We all have people in our lives that rub us the wrong way or that we simply don’t click with for whatever reason. As Christians, how should we think about and handle these tense relationships? What guidance does the Bible offer on relating to people we don’t particularly like?


The Bible has a lot to say about how we treat people – even people we may not like very much. As followers of Christ, we are called to reflect His character and love others as He has loved us. Though it may be challenging, Scripture provides wisdom on how to respond to difficult people and relationships in a way that honors God.

Here are some key takeaways on what the Bible teaches about not liking someone:

  • We should examine our own hearts first when conflict arises
  • We are called to forgive others just as God has forgiven us
  • Showing love and kindness is more important than personal feelings
  • Our conduct should reflect the love of Christ, even toward enemies
  • With God’s help, reconciliation and peace are possible

In this comprehensive article, we will explore Bible verses about interpersonal conflict, examine case studies of biblical characters who disliked others, look at God’s commands about loving others, and provide practical tips for applying biblical principles to difficult relationships. Whether it’s a family member, friend, coworker, or neighbor, God’s Word offers guidance for how to handle not getting along.

What Does the Bible Say About Not Liking Someone?

Examining Our Hearts

The Bible cautions us to carefully examine our own hearts and motivations when conflict arises. Often, the problem lies within us, not others.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5)

This verse warns against self-righteousness and hypocrisy. When we become irritated or judgmental toward others, Jesus says we should first look inward at our own shortcomings and sin.

We may dislike someone because they remind us of our own flaws or blind spots. Or we harbor bitterness or resentment toward them that has poisoned our thinking. The Holy Spirit can reveal the deeper motives and wounds that affect how we view others. As we surrender these areas to God, He “removes the plank from our eye” and changes our heart to be more loving.

Proverbs also addresses the inner attitude of our hearts:

“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” (Proverbs 10:12)

Harboring hatred or dislike toward someone will only breed more conflict. But choosing to cover wrongs with love defuses tension and makes reconciliation possible. This requires humility and seeing people through God’s eyes of compassion.

Before blaming others, we must first examine ourselves and invite the Holy Spirit to purify our motives and heal past hurts that may cloud our relationships. This clears the way for God’s love to flow through us.

Forgiving Others

One of the most powerful ways to overcome dislike of someone is to forgive them. Scripture says forgiveness should be practiced freely and frequently.

Jesus teaches extensively on forgiveness in Matthew 18:21-35. When Peter asks how many times he must forgive a brother who sins against him, Jesus replies:

“I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (v. 22)

He shares a parable equating the kingdom of heaven to a merciful king who forgives his servant’s immense debt. Yet when that forgiven servant refuses to forgive another’s small debt to him, the king revokes his pardon.

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (v. 35)

This parable illustrates God’s great mercy toward us and how He expects us to extend similar grace to others. Holding on to bitterness or offense can strain relationships and our connection with God. Instead, He calls us to practice true forgiveness by releasing hurt and resentment and praying for the other person. This cultivates an open heart that allows God’s love to flow.

Romans 12:14-21 provides additional instructions for overcoming bitterness:

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse…Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink’… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Rather than hold on to dislike, we are told to speak blessings over those who wrong us and return good for evil. This generous posture of forgiveness puts the situation in God’s hands and prevents further harm.

Forgiveness is a process, but it’s central to the gospel. By releasing others just as Christ released us, we walk in true freedom and peace. This attitude shift removes planks from our eyes to see people through the lens of grace.

Loving Your Neighbor

In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus tells the parable of the good Samaritan to illustrate what it means to “love your neighbor.” A Jewish traveler is robbed and beaten, left for dead on the roadside. Two religious Jews pass by without helping him. But a Samaritan man stops to care for the stranger, dressing his wounds and paying for his recovery.

Jesus asks:

“‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.'” (Luke 10:36-37)

Despite centuries of animosity between Jews and Samaritans, the Samaritan saw a person in need and showed compassion. Jesus concludes:

“Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37)

According to Christ, true neighbors are found by loving those around us, even if they seem like enemies or come from a disliked group. It’s easier to be kind to friends and loved ones. But God’s love in us can empower compassion and care for anyone – regardless of how we feel about them.

In Romans 13:8-10, Paul expands on fulfilling the law through love:

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments…are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Rather than nitpick people’s faults, we are told to walk in love and do no harm to those around us – eliminating any excuse to dislike them.

Treating people the way we wish to be treated trains our hearts to see beyond differences. It brings unity where there was division. As author C.S. Lewis wrote, “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did.”

In relationships where emotions run high, simply acting in thoughtful, considerate ways can cultivate care and respect. This will often trigger genuine affection to grow in time.

Reflecting Christ’s Love

One of Jesus’ final instructions to His disciples was to love one another as He loved them.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Loving others as Christ loved is a distinguishing mark of following Him. His perfect, unconditional love is the standard. He loved people when it was difficult, inconvenient, and undeserved. He calls us to do the same.

This unique kind of love is enabled by the Holy Spirit within believers:

“God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)

Because love comes from God, we can access it to care for people that may not be easy to like otherwise. As we yield to the Spirit, His love flows through us to those who may seem unlovely or unlovable.

The Bible gives specific direction on how God’s love acts toward others:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)

This agape love goes against human nature, but transforms relationships. Instead of focusing on another’s faults, we speak with grace and humility. We give them the benefit of the doubt. This isn’t approval of sinful actions, but rather an effort to perceive people through Christ’s redeeming eyes.

As we walk in love, we create space for God to work in others’ lives. Our aim should not be to change them, but to draw all people toward Christ through our good conduct.

Relating to Opponents and Enemies

At times, dislike festers into hostility. How does God call us to engage with those who oppose or mistreat us?

Jesus addressed this in His Sermon on the Mount:

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44-45)

Praying for and loving enemies seems counterintuitive. But when we release bitterness and intercede for them, our hearts soften and we open the door for God to work.

Stephen demonstrated this gracious response even while being stoned to death in Acts 7. As he was murdered for his faith, he prayed aloud:

“Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (Acts 7:60)

Rather than curse his persecutors, Stephen entreated the Lord to forgive them. This exemplifies Jesus’ instructions to bless those who harm us.

Paul also wrote about interpersonal strife:

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends.” (Romans 12:18-19)

We cannot control another person, but God asks us to do everything possible to facilitate peace. This includes letting go of vengeance and embracing forgiveness.

When relating to those who wrong us, Jesus modeled grace and compassion, even asking the Father to forgive those crucifying Him (Luke 23:34). By walking in love as Christ did, reconciliation and restoration become more likely.

Biblical Examples

Scripture contains many stories about people who disliked or disagreed with each other. Examining their responses provides both positive and negative examples of relating to others.

David and Saul

In 1 Samuel, Saul grows intensely jealous of David, God’s chosen successor to the throne. Saul makes multiple attempts on David’s life.

“Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had departed from Saul.” (1 Samuel 18:12)

However, David respects Saul as God’s anointed king and refuses to harm him. When given opportunities to kill Saul, David resists, instead choosing to love and honor his opponent.

“May the Lord repay every man for his righteousness and faithfulness.” (1 Samuel 26:23)

David’s respect exemplifies upholding those in authority over us, regardless of personal conflict. He trusted God to resolve the situation justly in His timing. David’s integrity eventually won Saul’s son Jonathan as an ally too.

Jacob and Esau

Genesis 27 details deception between Jacob and Esau regarding their father’s blessing. This bred long-lasting bitterness and discord. Esau threatened to kill Jacob, who then fled for years.

But upon their reunion, Jacob humbles himself before Esau, calling him “lord” and offering abundant gifts (Genesis 33:8). Esau embraces and kisses Jacob, welcoming him back from exile.

Their reconciliation illustrates the power of extending grace and pursuing peace, even after deep wounds. Surrendering resentment and treating others honorably can mend rifts.

Jesus and the Pharisees

Throughout the gospels, Jesus faced intense opposition from religious Pharisees who ultimately played a role in crucifying Him. They tried to discredit and trap Him at every turn.

Despite this, Jesus continued engaging individuals like Nicodemus and exposing the Pharisees’ hypocrisy with grace and truth. Christ exemplified boldness paired with compassion – the perfect model for contending without being contentious.

Even amid adversarial people, He conveyed unwavering love rooted in a desire for their redemption. This allowed Him to stand for truth while laying down His rights and offense.

Applying Biblical Principles

Implementing biblical guidance on difficult relationships requires wisdom, humility, and continual dependence on the Holy Spirit. Here are some practical tips:

  • Pray for the other person – ask God to give you His heart for them and change negative feelings toward them.
  • Look for common ground – find shared interests/values that foster humanizing rather than generalizing them.
  • Limit venting – resist trash talking them to others, which breeds bitterness.
  • Speak with kindness – even during conflict, choose words and tone that build up.
  • Give them the benefit of the doubt – avoid assuming the worst about unclear situations.
  • Be quick to forgive – let go of the desire for revenge or payback.
  • Set healthy boundaries – you can still show love while limiting harmful interactions.
  • Focus on your reactions – though you can’t control their behavior, you can control your own.
  • Entrust justice and vengeance to God – let Him be the judge and vindicator.

With consistent prayer and practice, relating to difficult people through biblical wisdom becomes more natural. We must draw strength from God’s unlimited grace and the transforming power of His Spirit.


At times everyone encounters interpersonal tension and people who rub them the wrong way. But God provides clear guidance in His Word on how to navigate these relationships in a way that honors Christ and promotes peace.

Key principles from Scripture include:

  • Examining our own hearts first when conflict arises
  • Forgiving others just as God has forgiven us
  • Showing Christlike love and kindness to all people
  • Relating to even opponents and enemies with grace
  • Allowing God to bring reconciliation and justice in His timing

Putting spiritual truths into practice requires courage and perseverance. But we have the model of Jesus, the guidance of Scripture, and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. As we grow in loving those who are difficult to like, we reflect God’s unconditional love and draw closer to the heart of Christ.

Though challenging people and relationships will come and go, the Bible offers timeless wisdom for responding as God desires. Our conduct – even toward enemies – has kingdom implications. May this comprehensive overview equip and inspire us to walk in love and advance God’s work wherever He has placed us.

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